North Korea has submitted a roster for an upcoming women's hockey tournament in South Korea, local organizers said Friday, though its participation will still need Seoul's approval.
The International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship Division II Group A will take place in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, some 230 kilometers east of Seoul, from April 2-8. It will be held as a test event for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
|In this file photo provided by the Korea Ice Hockey Association, South Korean women's hockey players stand for the national anthem after defeating China at the Asian Winter Games at Tsukisamu Gymnasium in Sapporo, Japan, on Feb. 24, 2017. (Yonhap)|
PyeongChang's organizing committee said North Korea handed in the list of 20 players and 10 coaches and support personnel to the IIHF.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Unification in Seoul said North Korea had expressed its intent to compete at the event and that the ministry was reviewing whether to approve the cross-border trip.
North Korea needs the South Korean government's approval to join any sporting event held south of the border. The two Koreas are technically in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
If North Korea's trip is authorized, the PyeongChang organizing committee said it will cover the cost of the stay, as it will for all other participating nations, and that the IIHF will take care of airfare.
Lee Hee-beom, head of the organizing committee, said, "We'll work with the government on matters related to North Korea's participation."
The competition will also feature the Netherlands, Britain, Slovenia and Australia. The top nation after the round-robin play will be promoted to Division I Group B next year, while the last-place nation will be relegated to Division II Group B in 2018.
The two Koreas faced each other last April at the 2016 Division II Group A championship in Slovenia, where South Korea prevailed 4-1.
South Korea is No. 23 in the latest IIHF rankings, three spots ahead of North Korea. At last month's Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, South Korea finished in fourth place -- its best result ever -- while North Korea was absent. (Yonhap)